Breaking News: Women, Men Can’t Have It All

I’ve wanted to write about and the whole “why can’t we (women) have it all?” discussion for a long time. I’ve resisted the temptation (oops) after seeing so many females call male responses to the litany of articles and books that have come out about “having it all” and “leaning in” as “mansplaining” 1. Every comment made by a man is treated as if it were made based on an anti-female sexism2.

So, I guess I’ll gloat instead.

The Washington Post reports that one of the leading figures in the “having it all” movement, Anne-Marie Slaughter, has stepped back after sitting down and thinking about the subject a bit longer (that happens when you write about something – you can change your own mind while ordering your initial thoughts to put them on paper or screen).

But that doesn’t change the fact that her fundamental argument – that there is an injustice in women not being able to professionally advance because they leave the workforce to raise children – is false. As Misty has argued (thus giving me some cover here), if you take six months off, do you really expect to receive the same raise someone who spent that six months working unpaid (salaried) overtime? I would certainly hope not.

I 100-percent agree that there should be greater social welfare policies – paid maternity/paternity leave, cost-free or low-cost child care, et cetera. But this isn’t a social welfare issue. If it is indeed a justice issue it is one in which those who do not have children and continue to work have cause to oppose the levelling of standards for those who left the office for six months or longer.

In fact, if someone gets six months of paid time off to care for their kid, when do those who remain single or do not have children get their six months?

None of this is beneficial to anyone. It harms the women (and men) who leave the workforce (or lose their jobs) for a time and want to rejoin without starting all over. But it’s also hardly surprising.

This is why my point was always that no one can “have it all.”

Well, I guess she finally came around. Damn mansplaining.

[1] You may note my frustration by the title of the blog post: “I’ve Got Your ‘Leaning In’ Right Here.”

[2] An argument can be made that, of course, men will look at the situation through the gender norms with which they have been inculcated – just like most women. However, conscientious men are just like conscientious women in that they can step back and view issues through a different lens while noting their own bias.

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